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Although coffee has often been characterized as being bad for your health, various studies dispute that notion. In fact, coffee is now considered a functional food because it provides many health benefits. It contains numerous nutritional elements that are believed to encourage good health, including flavonoids, caffeic acid, nicotinic acid (niacin) and trigonelline. During the roasting process, trigonelline is converted into the B-complex vitamin niacin, producing two to 80 milligrams per cup of coffee. Coffee also provides the minerals chromium and magnesium.
Coffee may prevent viral infections, as well as exert anti-bacterial effects.Coffee is rich in antioxidants, such as caffeic and chlorogenic acids and polyphenols. The inner skin of the coffee bean produces a stubstance known as silverskin, which provides soluble fiber and antioxidant acitivity. Coffee may relieve asthma symptoms. Among the methylxanthines found in coffee is theophylline, a bronchodilator of the lungs that in drug form is used to treat asthma.
Studies show that drinking coffee inhibits type-2 diabetes. A study done in the Netherlands found that those who drink seven or more cups a day were half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those who drank two cups or less daily. Whatís curious is that caffeine decreases glucose tolerance and increases insulin resistance, both of which usually are harbingers of diabetes. The mechanism is an elevation of catecholamines by caffeine, which leads to increased fatty acids in the blood that interfere with glucose uptake into cells. On the other hand, substances in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, are capable of loweing elevated blood glucose.
Coffee offers liver protection. A recent study found that those who drank coffee had a 41 percent decreased risk of acquiring liver cancer. Coffee also lowers elevated liver enzymes. It inhibits both alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis. A study of 46,008 men, ages 40 to 75, found that drinking too to three cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of gallstones. Other studies show that drinking coffee offers protective effects against Parkinsonís disease, a degenerative brain disease and also shows that coffee is protective against Alzheimerís disease.
Another recent study show that the topical application of caffeine protects skin cells from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. It has also been found that caffeine may protect against skin cancer, an effect that was greatly amplified by combining caffeine intake with exercise. The mechanism in both studies involved an upgrade in apoptosis, or the self-destruction of damaged cells that would otherwise turn into cancer. A test tube study found that caffeine stimulates human hair growth and counteracts the baldness-producing effects induced by testosterone exposure.
While caffeine may induce acute anxiety in some people, exercise rapidly blocks that effect. Another study found that consuming a caffeine drink followed by intense exercise will improve brain function and reduce brain drain incurred by hard training.